Much more than the Vatican City and the artistic wonder that is the Sistine Chappel, the importance of Rome as an icon of Christianism can not be denied, being a mecca for Catholicism for centuries. As the current home of the Pope, the biggest Catholic figure in the contemporary age, Rome can be the destination of pilgrims from all over the world, and in this tour, we will explore what makes the Eternal City such a special destination, receiving around 10 million tourists every year. We will discover its unique historical, artistic, and architectural features, and understand why, for so many centuries, the saying “all roads lead to Rome” has made so much sense, until today.
Are you ready for a journey of enlightenment?
Welcome to Rome!
DISCOVERING THE ETERNAL CITY
Upon arrival at one of the two Rome Airports – Ciampino or Fiumicino – you will be met with someone from our team and will be transferred by a private coach from the airport to your hotel. After check-in, and with your provided Metrebus travelcards, which allow us 24 hours unlimited travel on Rome’s buses, metros, and trams, you will meet your guide and travel to the historic centre. You will have welcome lunch in a characteristic trattoria or pizzeria in the centre of Rome. After that, you will go for an orientational walking tour of central Rome’s major ancient Roman and Imperial Roman sights. Amongst many others, you will see iconic archaeological features like the Roman Forum and Domus Aurea, the Trajan’s Column, and the Pantheon in the Piazza Della Rotonda.
Dinner in a traditional restaurant or trattoria. Overnight.
ROME’S RELIGION TODAY
After breakfast, you will meet our specialist guide and board our full-day coach for a tour of Rome’s main basilicas, amongst which you will visit:
- St Mary Major: Built over the pagan temple of Cybele, this is the only Roman basilica that retained the core of its original structure, left intact despite several additional construction projects and damage from the earthquake of 1348. It contains important mosaics and elaborate tombs and sumptuous chapels erected by the popes in the 16th C and 17th It is the largest and most important place of prayer dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
- St John in Laterano: This is the cathedral church of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope. Officially named Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour, it is the oldest and ranks first among the major basilicas, and holds the title of ecumenical mother church among Catholics. As the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, containing the papal throne (Cathedra Romana), it ranks above all other churches in the Catholic Church, even above St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
- St Paul’s Outside the Walls: The largest church in Rome after St. Peter’s and located on the road to Ostia in the ‘new’ district of EUR. The church commemorates the martyrdom of St. Paul and is believed to contain the Apostle’s tomb.
You will take a break to have a delicious lunch in a nearby ‘tavola calda’. In the afternoon, you will continue the tour with your guide and coach.
Dinner in a traditional restaurant or trattoria. Overnight.
THE SPREAD OF CHRISTIANITY
After breakfast, you will join your guide on a private coach for a full-day tour through some of the most important Christian sights of Rome, including:
- The Catacombs of Saint Sebastian or Saint Callixtus: The Eternal city’s underground burial chambers where long winding passages unfold millennia of history, taking you to a time when Christianity was considered a simple cult whose members were executed as pagans and buried as martyrs.
- The Colosseum: One of the most immediately recognizable historic buildings in the world, the Colosseum was built by the Roman emperor Vespasian in 72 A.D and was designed to hold approximately 50,000 spectators.
- The Basilica of San Clemente: Where the sound of running water drove one clergyman to dig his way through the floor tiles. What he discovered was the “wedding cake” – layers of history piled on top of each other so that visitors today wind their way down to a 4th-century church, the 2nd century remains of a Mithraic temple, and finally, an incredibly preserved 1st-century Roman street.
- The Basilica dei Santi Cosma e Damiano (Roman Forum): Santi Cosma e Damiano is an ancient church and minor basilica located on the east side of the Roman Forum in the historic Rione Monti. The dedication is to two Greek brothers named Cosmas and Damian who were doctors, martyrs, and saints.
- The Capuchin Crypt (beneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini in the Via Veneto): One of the most original and suggestive sites in Rome, where the remains of 4,000 Capuchin monks literally rest in pieces. Their remains have been used to decorate the underground crypt with vertebrae chandeliers, real-life skulls, and cross-bones and robe-clad skeletons leering from the walls.
- The Jewish Ghetto: Rome is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. Its history is closely intertwined with the events of the Roman Catholic Church and the papacy, which over the centuries has played the roles of both protector and persecutor of the Roman Jews. Culturally rich, the Roman Jewish community still has its centre of gravity in a small patch of land near the Tiber River where their ancestors were confined by Pope Paul IV.
Lunch in a nearby trattoria and continuation of the tour in the afternoon. Dinner in a traditional restaurant. Overnight.
DAY TRIP TO ASSISI
You will start the day with an early breakfast and departure on your full-day coach heading north to the Umbrian hillside town of Assisi where you will meet your guide who will accompany you as we explore this beautiful town and visit:
- The Upper and Lower Churches in the Basilica of St Francis: This is simply Umbria’s single greatest glory – it has one of the most overwhelming collections of art, outside a gallery, anywhere in the world. It is split into two parts. The Upper Church is a fabulous airy vehicle for showing off his dazzling frescoes on the life of St Francis, while the low-lit vaults of the Lower Church were designed to create a mood of calm and meditative introspection, an effect added to by the brown-robed monks and ban on photography (note!). Frescoes cover almost every available space and span a century of continuous artistic development by Cavallini, Cimabue, Martini, and Lorenzetti. St Francis himself is buried here in the crypt.
- The Basilica of St Claire: Construction work on the church and adjacent convent of St Claire began in 1257, three years after the saint’s death and a year after she was canonized. The exterior of the building makes use of alternate strips of pink and white stone, with massive supporting arches on either side.
- The Basilica of San Rufino: The Cathedral of San Rufino, also known as the Duomo of Assisi, is the main Catholic church in Assisi, located in the homonymous square. The Cathedral was built on a terrace that probably was the place of the ancient Roman forum of the city.
Lunch in a local trattoria or ‘tavola calda’ and return to Rome. Dinner in a traditional restaurant or trattoria. Overnight.
THE DOMINANCE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
After breakfast, you will meet your specialist guide and with your provided Metrebus travelcards will travel to Vatican City. There, you will have skip-the-line entrances to:
- The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel:
One of the most splendid museums in the world. Begin your visit with the Corte Della Pigna where your guide will introduce you to the history and beauty of the Sistine Chapel. Continue your tour to see the hall featuring Greco-Roman sculptures, the Hall of Tapestries, featuring magnificent 16th-century Flemish tapestries executed from Raphael’s designs; and the Maps Gallery, a 120-foot long gallery, hung with interesting ancient maps. The completion of the tour occurs in the Sistine Chapel, the Pope’s official private chapel where election conclaves are held. In order to respect its reverence, the Vatican has requested silence during your visit. Be sure to view Michelangelo’s ‘Creation” and the famous ‘Last Judgment’ before leaving the Chapel.
- Saint Peter’s Basilica:
Built on the site where St. Peter was martyred. Unsurpassed in beauty, a monument to the long history of the Catholic Church, to which pilgrims come from around the world. St. Peter’s is the grandest of the world’s churches. View such historical treasure as a piece of the True Cross, the lance that pierced Christ’s side, and numerous papal tombs. See Michaelangelo’s Pietà and the four mighty piers that support St Peter’s magnificent dome. St. Peter’s Square, one of the most beautiful and famous in the world, surrounded by Bernini’s imposing colonnade that seems to “embrace” it with its 284 columns.
You will stop for lunch in a characteristic trattoria or pizzeria in the center of Rome, and have the last afternoon at leisure to explore the ‘Eternal City.
Farewell Dinner in a traditional trattoria. Overnight.
FROM ROME TO HOME
After breakfast, you will check out of our hotel and board your private coach to transfer to the Rome Airport. End of our services. Arrivederci, Roma!
Please take note that this program is given depending on the sanitary conditions in 2022.
Depending on the Covid-19 evolution, gauges could be established and sites could be closed by our partners.
The agency reserves the right to modify or reverse the order of visits for the benefit of the traveler.